Mexican Authorities Implement Digital System for Federal Transportation Licenses

On February 15, 2021, a Decree was published in the Official Gazette of the Federation establishing general rules for the regulation of Federal Digital Licenses applicable to various modes of transportation (the “Decree”). The Decree will enter into force on April 1, 2021.

In accordance with the Decree, Mexican transportation authorities will issue digital federal licenses for the various modes of transportation, e.g., motor carrier, air, rail and maritime, to facilitate the processing of drivers’ and pilots’ licenses.

Administrative, medical and other qualifications required to obtain the various types of licenses will remain the same. The only change is to the means of application for and issuance of such licenses, which will now be conducted through electronic means.

Once the requirements for issuance have been satisfied, the respective license will be issued and may be downloaded by means of a cellphone application to be called a “Federal Digital License”. Said application will be available on the main operating systems of smart phones; however, the specific systems or types of smart phones on which it will be available have not been specified.

The license application can be downloaded for printing so that drivers or pilots may print hard copies. However, such printed versions will be valid for only one month from the date of printing, after which time the printed versions will become obsolete and must be downloaded and printed again to make them valid.

Mexican transportation authorities will also deploy a mobile application to verify the authenticity and validity of the new federal digital licenses. Importantly, Mexican officials will not have the authority to request delivery of the drivers’ or pilots’ cellphones, nor to request copies of the printed licenses. Therefore, the authorities’ review of license information will be limited to validation by means of their verification application reading the QR code included on each license.

Existing federal plastic licenses will be valid through the expiration date printed thereon.  Once such expire, they must be renewed with a digital license. Additionally, lost or stolen valid plastic licenses will be replaced with digital licenses.

While it is true that the processing of these new licenses will be streamlined, the migration to digital licenses will require drivers and transportation authorities to have smartphones with sufficient memory to download the necessary applications and have sufficient internet connections or data to use such applications in the event of verification. Accordingly, cases in which the applications stop working or when verifications cannot be conducted owing to a lack of internet or sufficient battery power by the authorities and/or drivers and pilots, are not regulated and thus may create uncertainty for drivers and pilots.

At present, the Mexican Department of Communications and Transportation has not implemented the electronic means for processing federal digital licenses, and the relevant mobile applications are not yet available.  Therefore, affected companies, drivers and pilots will need to wait until the new systems are available to understand and test their operation.

Please contact us if you have questions regarding the processing of mobile federal licenses.

Contact Information:

Ramón Concha Hein | rconcha@ccn-law.com

Pablo Sáenz Baltazar | psaenzb@ccn-law.com